Manufacturing for the Masses: A Novel Concept for Consumer 3D Printer Networks in the Context of Crisis Relief

Bart Raeymaekers, Kam K. Leang , Maurizio Porfiri, Shenghan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Local or national crises, such as natural disasters, major infrastructure failures, and pandemics, pose dire threats to manufacturing. The concept of a rideshare-like distributed network of consumer-type 3D printers is proposed to address the limited ability of the industrial base to quickly respond to abrupt changes in critical product demand or to disruptions in manufacturing and supply-chain capacity. The technical challenges that prevent the implementation of such a network are discussed, including 1) remote qualification of 3D printers, 2) dynamic routing algorithms with reactive and predictive components, which take advantage of real-time information about current events that may affect the network, and 3) performance evaluation of the network. Furthermore, a cyber-infrastructure that enables autonomous operation and reconfiguration of the network to render it “crisis-proof” by minimizing human involvement is introduced. The concept of a distributed network of consumer-type 3D printers allows anyone with a 3D printer and access to the internet to manufacture critical supplies, triggered by actual and predicted customer demand. Beyond crisis relief, distributed networks of manufacturing assets have broad relevance, and they can establish a virtual marketplace to exchange manufacturing capacity. Thus, this future manufacturing platform has the potential to transform how to manufacture for the masses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Intelligent Systems
Issue number2100121
StatePublished - Sep 29 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Manufacturing for the Masses: A Novel Concept for Consumer 3D Printer Networks in the Context of Crisis Relief'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this